Association hosts both major-party candidates in separate sessions.The stateÂs heavy property tax burden is a problem thatÂs on the minds of both Gov. Jon S. Corzine and his Republican challenger, Chris Christie, but the gubernatorial hopefuls have very different solutions for tackling the issue.
Independent challenger Chris Daggett was not invited to participate.
ÂIt is almost universally accepted that New JerseyÂs system of home rule, with 566 municipalities and even more local school districts, are a contributing factor to our crushing property tax burden,Â said Carol-Ann Short, the associationÂs chief operating officer, during the New Jersey Builders AssociationÂs board of directors meeting in East Windsor. Both candidates addressed some 200 attendees separately Friday morning.
Corzine said the long-term solution was to consolidate municipalities and create shared services between towns. But Âthe first thing we need to do is use our resources to make sure that we staunch property tax hikes, and the best way to do that is funding schools appropriately,Â he said.
Ensuring proper funding for the stateÂs middle-class schools has lowered the growth rate for property taxes for schools from the mid-6 percent range down to 2.2 percent this year, the governor said.
Christie, however, had other ideas.
ÂWe need to go after unfunded mandates,Â he said. ÂThereÂs so many of them out there that get foisted upon municipalities, and it costs them money.Â One of the first tasks for running mate Kim Guadagno as lieutenant governor would be to compile a list of such unfunded mandates, and ÂweÂll pull them back,Â Christie said.
He also planned to address municipal management of boards of education.
ÂMiddle management at the school or board level has increased exponentially,Â he said. ÂI just donÂt think we need nearly as many of them.Â As governor, Christie said he intended to have school boards audited regarding their middle-management practices. ÂThatÂs money coming out of property tax base,Â he said.
E-mail Evelyn Lee at [email protected]l